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Initial takeaways from the Seahawks’ 2023 NFL Draft

Thoughts on how the Seahawks handled the 2023 NFL Draft.

NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The latest edition of the NFL Draft is all done, and the Seattle Seahawks have had an eventful draft once again. They took the first cornerback and first wide receiver off the board, then wrapped it up by taking the last running back. To my amazement, they didn’t stock up on 24- and 25-year-olds in a class filled with them because of the COVID year. Times are a changin’ up at VMAC!

Here are some takeaways on what Seattle did and didn’t do in Kansas City.

Rationalizing the Devon Witherspoon pick

The Seahawks have never drafted a corner this high under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Part of it is they don’t often pick this high to begin with, and another part is they spent several years not really needing to take cornerbacks early when Richard Sherman was playing at a high level for the better part of seven seasons.

Yes, Seattle’s pass rush will continue to be a question mark entering this season, but Carroll (whether you agree or not) has clearly envisioned a Legion of Boom 2.0. but without the stringent height and arm length requirements. Witherspoon’s physical attributes previously would’ve been disqualifying for Seattle, but his actual downhill, heavy-hitting, aggressive play on the field is as Seahawky as it gets.

Combining Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen on the outside provides the Seahawks with potential to have two shutdown corners, which I’d argue they didn’t really have under the OG version of the Legion of Boom. You could pick on Brandon Browner and Byron Maxwell at times if only because no one would throw Sherman’s way, but also they were more mistake prone to begin with.

You might be going “Mike Jackson was good, and don’t forget about Tre Brown!” and I get that. This is also what has been a frequent undoing of the Seahawks in recent years. Solid contributors who don’t have high ceilings shouldn’t be treated as untouchable in the lineup.

I wish this team had kept D.J. Reed considering his performance with the Jets, but this isn’t a bad tradeoff. Woolen, Witherspoon, and Coby Bryant in the slot is a young, exciting cornerback trio.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is my favorite pick of the draft

Not just the player, but the need. I’ve banged on the drum for years that the Seahawks need another receiver, and while they tried with Dee Eskridge, it wasn’t great process to take him specifically. Smith-Njigba is a terrific route-runner, super dependable hands, and he gets open. I don’t care if he doesn’t run a 4.35 40-yard dash if he can be a viable target for Geno Smith. A young, dangerous WR3 is more valuable than any of the tight ends on the Seahawks’ roster right now.

Let John Gilbert’s tweet thread do the talking.

I’m done waiting for UDFAs and Day 3 picks and aging veterans being the third receiving option and then the offense tanks whenever something happens to either Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf. Time to get potentially elite talent at a position that is as highly coveted as any in an NFL offense outside of quarterback.

It’s Geno Smith and Drew Lock as the unquestioned 1-2 at quarterback

The Seahawks didn’t draft Anthony Richardson, and maybe in an alternate world where Seattle picked at No. 3 they would’ve considered it. Will Levis and Hendon Hooker were taken on Day 2 and the Seahawks passed on Hooker when they had the chance to get him in Round 2. They didn’t even take a flyer on a project QB on Day 3, so Seattle really has just drafted Russell Wilson and Alex McGough at the position in the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era.

Drew Lock’s job as the backup entering training camp is looking as safe as can be, and obviously Geno Smith is QB1 into 2024.

The Seahawks can’t help themselves at running back

Seattle has drafted running backs in Rounds 1 or 2 three times over the past six seasons. Even after getting Ken Walker last season, the departures of Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer inspired them to use a second-rounder on Zach Charbonnet from UCLA, whom I like but obviously the process of taking backs early (let alone a backup) is a sore spot among fans. With D’Andre Swift traded from Detroit to Philadelphia, the Seahawks will once again be the only team in the NFL rostering multiple backs whom they drafted within the first two rounds.

But I’ll still root like hell for Charbonnet to be the thunder to Walker’s lightning. And maybe Kenny McIntosh can be the jack of all trades option.

Linebackers? Who needs them?

The Seahawks drafted zero middle linebackers. Their depth consists of Bobby Wagner, Devin Bush, Jordyn Brooks (when he’s healthy again), Vi Jones, Jon Rhattigan, and whichever UDFAs they keep with them through camp. That terrifies me. Just going to assume something will get done about this over the summer.

The Trader John era might be over?

John Schneider has a deserved reputation for frequently trading down in drafts, usually to acquire more picks within that year’s draft or for future drafts. Seattle only made one Draft Day trade with the Denver Broncos this year, having made just one Draft Day trade last year. In 2021 they made two trades despite hardly having any picks, and actually reduced their draft capital to three thanks to trading up to get Stone Forsythe.

Three straight years with minimal movement during the draft may indicate another shift in Seattle’s draft philosophy that extends beyond which players they acquire.

Better late than never in the trenches

It was a bit of an eyebrow raiser that entering Day 3 the only draft pick along the line of scrimmage was Auburn’s Derick Hall. Pete Carroll said they didn’t draft by need, but by which players they wanted.

They still addressed some needs, though! Anthony Bradford should compete with Phil Haynes for the right guard job. Olu Oluwatimi was hailed as college football’s best center last season and the Seahawks got him in the fifth. On the defensive side you have Cameron Young as a possible fit at nose tackle, as well as Mike Morris presumably kicking to the inside after standing out as an edge rusher at Michigan. All of the open roster spots will provide Seattle plenty of chances to see if they can unearth more UDFA gems.

Not every pick for the Seahawks will be a home run and that’s a fact. If they can get a couple of singles or doubles with their Day 3 picks and their early choices are home runs, I’ll be more than content. The draft process was generally as sound as it was in 2022, which is the best we can hope for before any of these rookies steps onto the field.